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Speculative grade corporate defaults declined again in 2Q, says Moody's

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Despite rising concerns over corporate debt levels and economic uncertainty over interest rates and global trade, U.S. and European speculative-grade corporate default rates still merit little worry for analysts.

On Wednesday, Moody’s Investors Service reported a continued decline in the global default rates for debt issued by junk-rated companies, and maintained a forecast a benign outlook for potential disruption down the road.

The U.S. and European speculative-grade corporate default rates fell during the second quarter, reports Moody’s. The 12-month trailing default rate fell to 3.4% in June from 4% in March, while in Europe it declined to 2.2% from 2.8% over the quarter.

Globally, defaults stood at 2.9%, down from 3.4% in the first quarter.

The global rate is expected to continue to fall, projected to finish the year at 2.1% — and stand at 2.0% at the end of 2019, according to Sharon Ou, a Moody’s vice president and senior credit officer.

“Despite current challenges in global trade, the improving global economy and sufficient market liquidity will shore up corporate credit quality in the near term,” Ou noted in the report.

The U.S. default forecast is for a lower rate of 2.8% by year’s end, while in Europe the rate is expected to fall to 1.5% when 2018 is over.

Moody’s recorded 17 corporate defaults in the second quarter, down from 29, with the most (four) occurring in the oil and gas sector. Twelve of the defaults occurred in North America and three in Europe.

Retail, which was the trouble spot with nine defaults in the first quarter, had only one default.

Among the default events were distressed exchanges by CHS/Community Health Systems ($3.2 billion in bonds), Murray Energy Corp. ($744 million in bonds) and Del Monte Foods ($129 million in loans), according to Moody’s.

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